Thursday, June 24, 2010

Road Trip to Vizag-Araku

This trip was originally meant to be done on bikes, but keeping in mind the safety concerns we went in a 4-wheeler. We were scheduled to start in the morning of 10th Dec,2009 but due to the Samaikya Andhra agitation going on at that time, we started in the midnight of 9th Dec. Let me first introduce to our group:

1. Ajay Kumar Meda
2. Ratna Divyas
3. Hemanth Babu
4. Sonu
5. Kanth
6. Narendra
7. Venkatesh
8. Brother of Venkatesh (Bro), also the owner of the vehicle in which we went, Tata Sumo Turbo

I bid farewell to my mom on the night we started and headed to Ratna's new home where everyone had already gathered. Bro was already taking a nap as he had to drive the whole night. We had a light meal and packed all the required stuff like cameras etc. apart from the regular clothing. During that time robberies were frequent in that locality. Seeing all our activity in the midnight, we were questioned by one of the patrol police going that way...Answering them with our 'excited' faces they were convinced that 'All is well', and went away.

Day 1:
We prayed to God requesting a safe journey and started to Vizag at around 1am on 10th Dec. i was fast asleep and only woke up in the early morning where we stopped for a tea break. Took some snaps in the thick fog. I was told we were near Rajamundry....Ohh i forgot to mention our route, its the typical NH5 all the way, Guntur-Vijayawada-Eluru-Rajamundry-Vizag.

By the time i woke up again we were in the outskirts of Vizag, i was told the total single journey toll tickets summed to around Rs.450/-. We visited a friend who had booked our rooms and headed straight to Rishikonda APTDC Hill Top Resorts.
Checked into our rooms at 10 am, took bath and had a hearty meal in the APTDC Restaurant only to be disappointed by the mind-whopping bill. Its better if one can avoid eating here. Its a very costly affair.

After lunch we visited Kailashgiri Hill, a place famous for two things. First is the large statue of Shiva Parvathi, and the other is that its a favourite spot for couples, they can be seen everywhere actively....Your guess..;-).

Later in the afternoon we visited Bhimli beach about 20kms away, its not as beautiful as i thought it to be but certaily not a spot to be missed. The waves splashing over the rocks is memorable sight. Took a lot of snaps. Its interesting to note there are many mythological sculptures on the beach. There is also a large portugese cemetery nearby if anyone dares to visit. Its a lonely place wid a 'lonely' guard ;-)

On our way back, we headed to Ramanaidu Film Studios which is situated on a hill.
We were lucky enough to watch the shooting of some oriya film, the heroine strongly resembled Parvati Melton. We were as unlucky as we were lucky earlier, because while taking a stroll through the various film sets,ironically, we forgot one of the digital camera's on the desk in the set of a 'police station'. By the time we realised it was missing, someone had already made away with it. Pity..!! Its a Sony Cybershot 7MP.

With a grief stricken heart, we made it to a restaurant (not the earlier one) and had a light meal. Our friend who helped us with the resort booking, Kaushik, said that he can accompany us to Araku. Now, thats a point to be happy about. Me and kaushik took a quick ride through GITAM University which was situated opposite to our resorts...OMG!! its a big one...

Next we hit RK beach road, parked our vehicle and took a walk along the entire stretch. Its one of the most beautiful places i've ever seen. The streets along the entire length of road were bistling with activity. Myself, i had corn, my favourite.
We returned to our rooms at 11pm and fell asleep almost instantly after deciding when to start to Araku the next morning.

Day 2:
As the bandh was imminent the next day, we decided to start for Araku in the early morning but to my surprise none woke up except myself. I had to call the other's mobiles to wake them up as some were in another room, and by the time we checked out the room it was around 5am.
After 20kms, we took a small break to enjoy the scenery, quickly took some snaps. It was during this time the road was blocked in the next town because of which we were stranded for an hour.. Hatsoff to Samaikyandhra Bandh!!

Luckily, with the help of some locals, we were able to trace another route and reached Borra Caves at 8am. But the caves would be available to public only after 10am, we had a leisure of two hrs. Meanwhile, there was a waterfall that we were told was worth visiting. We hired a jeep to take us to the trekking point for Rs. 350/- from which we had to trek about 3km uphill...a really tiring task!!

Our efforts finally paid off, there was only one family when we reached the falls and they too left within a few minutes. The waterfall is so amazing, i simply dont find words to describe it. And the water is so cold, in fact i felt my blood freezing under my skin. We spent the entire hour under the falls, playing and splashing water like little children....

During the return trek, we posed for some photographs near a railway tunnel, like in the movie, 'Happy Days'.

Our jeep was waiting for us by the time we returned, we could now see hundreds of people flocking towards the falls.....We are really fortunate to have been there alone...Next, we visited the world famous Borra Caves, with its magnificient natural formation of calcium deposits, stalagmites and stalactites....

Infact, a stone was laid that indicated the railway line ran across the roof of the cave at exactly 100ft height from the floor of the cave...Amazing!!

Then we headed straight to Araku, had lunch at some hotel just at the entrance..The name goes by 'Hotel Vijayalakshmi' i dont remember exactly...The food is worse, its best if one would avoid thinking of eating in this place. We enquired with Haritha Resorts about the vacancies and room tariffs, but they are very costly..Each a/c room costs about Rs.2200/- so we quit from that place. After a little bit of struggle, we managed to get two a/c rooms, for just Rs.800/- each in a resort. I dont remember the name exactly, but the buildings are painted in a variety of colours, in a small lane near Padmapuram Gardens.

We started to shiver right from 4 in the evening....a quick drop in the temperature. At 7pm we took a stroll in the heavy fog and had a cup of hot coffee at a nearby shop. Later did some shopping and retreated into the warmth our beds to have a sound sleep at 10pm after having a delicious non-veg meal prepared right in the resort...

Day 3:
We woke early in the morning and to our surprise there was thick fog everywhere, the visibility is almost zero. We went around the resort and posed for a lot of photographs.

After having our breakfast, we visited the Padmapuram Gardens which has a vast collection of plants and trees. Personally, i didn't find it much amusing. We vacated our rooms after returning from there.

Next, we headed to a small falls, called Chaparai. It literally means a Slide. Yes, one can slide on the falls and dive into the pool below. This was also featured in many of the films like 'Gangotri'. But the place is very crowded and some 'idiots' were even washing their vehicles in the water. So, we returned after some quick snaps. We also saw the set of a large house which was to feature in Prabhas starrer 'Darling'.

At was almost 12pm when we started our return journey to Vizag. We stopped on the way at Araku Railway Station, Highest Broad Gauge in India and took some group photographs near the signboard.

Local made coffee powder and spices were being sold at a place on the way, we took a break there. Apart from buying some packets each, we also ventured into the Coffee Estates and had little fun trekking on the slopes.

I forgot to mention, we didn't have our lunch as we were running behind schedule, fed ourselves with chips etc. It was around 3pm when we reached Vizag. We dropped Kaushik at his home, bid him farewell and started our return journey home. Had lunch at 5pm at a highway dhaba. It was mid-night by the time we reached Guntur.

I wished everyone a good night and reached home.

A final word:

It is always fun to spend time with our friends. This is what i enjoyed the most during this trip. There are no beautiful places in Araku, and i personally didnt enjoy the place, apart from the thick fog in the morning and the chilling waterfalls i mentioned earlier. So, anyone who wants to go to Araku, i advise to go with a lot of friends.

I thank God for making this trip a safe one and my friends for making it a memorable one.

Ajay Kumar Meda